methane

Key Facts About the New EPA Plan to Reverse the Obama-era Methane Leaks Rule

Read time: 5 mins

By . Originally posted on Yale Climate Connections.

President Trump’s EPA is moving to roll back 2016 Obama administration methane leak regulations for key parts of the oil and gas industry, another example of what seems an across-the-board repudiation of Obama-era environmental and climate change initiatives. The new proposal, if made final, is certain to face legal challenges, with its ultimate fate perhaps being decided only by the administration in office in 2021.

Fracking and Shale Drilling Caused Spike in Climate-Warming Methane Pollution, Says New Study

Read time: 8 mins
Flaring in Permian Basin Shale with sunflowers

Climate-changing pollution reached unprecedented levels in 2018. That's both judged against the last 60 years of modern measurements and against 800,000 years of data culled from ice cores, according to the U.S. government’s State of the Climate report, which was published this week with the American Meteorological Society.

That pollution creates a greenhouse effect that is over 42 percent stronger than it was in 1990, the report added.

And while carbon dioxide hit a new level last year, it isn't the only climate-changing gas that’s on the rise globally. Pollution of the powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas methane also climbed in 2018, showing an increase “higher than the average growth rate over the past decade,” the report adds.

A new Cornell University study published today in the scientific journal Biogeosciences helps to explain what sparked the surge in those methane concentrations, both here in the U.S. and around the world.

One big culprit: shale drilling and fracking.

More Signs That Natural Gas Can’t Compete With Renewables on Cost

Read time: 7 mins
solar panels at twilight

From a natural gas industry conference to a major metropolitan area, more signs are emerging that natural gas is in a losing economic battle with renewables and battery storage. And considering recent news that existing fossil fuel projects are already enough to push the world past international climate goals, this emerging economic reality couldn't come soon enough.

It’s Time to Stop Calling Natural Gas a ‘Bridge Fuel’ to a Safe Climate, Says New Report

Read time: 6 mins
natural gas flare

Natural gas, marketed for years as a “bridge fuel” to cleaner energy sources, cannot be part of any climate solution, according to a new report from Oil Change International.

While its authors outline a range of arguments, the report, Burning the Gas “Bridge Fuel” Myth: Why Gas is Not Clean, Cheap, or Necessary, highlights this simple reason: There is no room for new fossil fuel development — natural gas included — within the Paris Agreement goals. Therefore, plans to transition to a natural gas-based system are incompatible with international climate goals.

Greenhouse Hothouse Firehouse: Scientists Set out Pathways for Planet Earth

Read time: 6 mins
Los Angeles city skyline at sunset

By Martin Bush. Reposted with permission from ClimateZone.org.

A scientific paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is getting a lot of attention. Written in the dry style of systems analysis — and throughout the text referring to the planet as the “Earth System,” it nevertheless brilliantly manages to present the looming dangers of extreme climate change in a way that has powerfully resonated with many people. People who are worried about climate change, but aren’t exactly sure what the future holds, how bad it’s going to get, and how to avoid being dragged in that direction. 

Methane Leaks from Oil and Gas 60% Higher Than EPA Estimates, New Study Finds

Read time: 6 mins
Emissions from oil and gas infrastructure

Each year, oil and gas industry operations in the U.S. are leaking roughly 60 percent more methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere than previous estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which relied heavily on self-reporting by the industry.

That's the conclusion of a study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science and conducted with funding from the Department of Energy, NASA, and private foundations. The two dozen researchers involved found that the U.S. oil and gas supply chain releases between 11 and 15 million metric tons of methane per year. 

“This study confirms the growing body of peer-reviewed science indicating oil and gas extraction's methane pollution makes it as harmful to climate as coal burning's carbon dioxide pollution,” said Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University professor emeritus of engineering and vice president of Earthworks' board of directors.

This Vigilante Scientist Trekked Over 10,000 Kilometres to Reveal B.C.’s Leaking Gas Wells

Read time: 10 mins
John Werring in the field

If you’d met John Werring four years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you what an abandoned gas well looked like.

We had no idea whether they were even accessible,” said the registered professional biologist.

That was before the summer of 2014, when he headed up to Fort St. John, B.C., on a reconnaissance mission. At that time, much was known about leaking gas wells in the United States, but there was very little data on Canada.

All Werring had to work with was a map of abandoned wells provided by B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission. Armed with a gas monitor and a metal detector, he headed into what the gas industry calls the “Montney formation,” one of the largest shale gas resources in the world. Shale gas is primarily accessed via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Most of these places, there’s nobody in the field,” Werring said. “You won’t see anybody for miles and miles. Just well after well after well.”

New NASA Study Solves Climate Mystery, Confirms Methane Spike Tied to Oil and Gas

Read time: 5 mins
Global map of percent changes in acres burning

Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America's electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.

But new peer-reviewed research adds to the growing evidence that the shift from coal to gas isn't necessarily good news for the climate.

A team led by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the largest share of the world's rising methane emissions, which are a major factor in climate change — and in the process the researchers resolved one of the mysteries that has plagued climate scientists over the past several years.

How Has the US Fracking Boom Affected Air Pollution in Shale Areas?

Read time: 7 mins
Trucks in front of a flare at a fracking site

By Gunnar W. Schade, Texas A&M University

Urban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s.

Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress.

But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution.

Ex-NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg: 'Clean Coal' Is BS, but Feds Should 'Stay Out of the Way' on Climate

Read time: 5 mins
Center, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg

At a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) summit in New York City this week, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was blunt about the prospects for so-called “clean coal.”

“Carbon capture is total bullshit,” he told the crowd of several hundred top energy industry executives and financiers. “This is a figment of imagination.”

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